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Most answers posted by trinitarian/binitarian believers frame their answer around common tenets of traditional doctrines. Some examples are:

  1. Jesus became human
  2. Jesus had always existed with God
  3. the incarnation
  4. Jesus the instrument by which Jehovah brought about creation itself John 1:3
  5. the pre-incarnate Christ
  6. Christ appeared in Christophanies (eg to Abraham)
  7. Christians constantly speak of 'Jesus' prior to the incarnation of the Son of God
  8. the pre-existence of Christ

These are some of the typical statements that, while very popular, are not Biblically supported. While there may be opportunity to develop these statements from some verses, it is only by conjecture and speculation, causing contradiction with other passages.

These ideas are not derived by Hermeneutical process.

The other popular theological theme uses proof-text methodology using verses in isolation and ignoring the context of the immediate passage or other verses that would deny the stated premise or belief.

This practise is also not Hermeneutical and not obtained by an honest and responsible Biblical study.

The whole reason for BH (going by the Title) is undermined by an accepted and highly rewarded practice of putting theology before the Biblical text. Below is a grab which outlines the point of BH and some guidelines which remain essential to an appropriate BH approach and result.

who cares with respect to exactly what it means (the point of Biblical Hermeneutics)

If BH begins with theology, it has missed the point. Is it missing the point?

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  • It is quite ridiculous to say that things like the incarnation are not "Biblically supported". You may not accept incarnation theology, but any honest reader of the scriptures should be able to see several passages that can be read as indicating an incarnation. You may have alternative interpretations of those passages, as lots of people do, but you should be able to see alternative interpretations to your own. Only someone whose approach to the scriptures is to proof-text could possibly say there are no possible understandings of the NT which indicate an incarnation!
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 28, 2023 at 0:25
  • @curious Yet strangely, you can only infer such a concept without any actual hard evidence. The hard evidence is that Jesus was born of Mary by the HS. The total absence of a Son or any other details you suggest before Jesus are simply imaginary and not derived by an exegetical process that BH requires. There is no need to make up another narrative than the one the Bible provides quite succinctly. To do so seems ridiculous.
    – Steve
    Sep 28, 2023 at 1:23
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    This is not the place to debate such theology. But as you've been told before, the way you relate to others must be respectful. Saying those with beliefs you disagree with are imagining details is unacceptable.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 28, 2023 at 1:30
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    Theology or doctrinal views derive from exegesis, hence we cannot ban doctrinal implications for hermeneutics studies to a level; but some topics like trinity should be discouraged and banned as much as possible, as they don't serve the purpose of hermeneutics.
    – Michael16
    Oct 6, 2023 at 11:38

4 Answers 4

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While I don't agree with all the premises in your post, my answer to your main question in the title is: Yes.

I won't elaborate further, as such has already been done ad nauseam:

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  • Appreciate the links! I did search for such but was unsuccessful.
    – Steve
    Sep 27, 2023 at 22:13
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    While I wouldn't stand entirely by the argument I advanced in this post almost a decade ago when I wrote it, I did attempt a similar task as your question which I referred to as a "Protestant ideology" which is an inherent (and generally unacknowledged) bias for most users here. Skip the rest of the question except for that heading: hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/775/423
    – Dan
    Sep 27, 2023 at 23:39
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The topic of this site is the core task of exegesis, the reading and interpretation of Biblical texts. Our reading and interpretation of the Bible informs the theology that we develop from it. But although we might like to think that we can read the texts completely unbiased, the reality is that our theology informs the way we read the texts. This is called the hermeneutical circle. We don't come to the text without some preconceptions, and so it is inevitable that at times theology will be present in some answers.

Most answers on this site should be predominantly exegetical. But there are times when a helpful answer will be mostly theological. For example, for a question about how Jesus could understand what other people were thinking (ex Matthew 9:4), the answer for most Christians would be that Jesus can know the minds of others because he is divine. This is theological, but it is still a valid exegetical way of reading such a passage. That the Gospel authors believed that Jesus was divine (though not necessarily with the kind of detailed theology we find at Nicea) is a valid hermeneutical foundation. This belief does of course arise from a systematic theological study of the scriptures, but it also informs how we read the scriptures.

So if a question asked how Jesus could know their thoughts in Matthew 9:4, some answers would explain how from the perspective that Jesus wasn't divine, and others would explain how from the perspective that he was. All these answers are theological, and neither is probably going to be particularly directly hermeneutical - Matthew 9 does not attempt to explain how it was that Jesus could know the thoughts of others.

In both cases, how should a good answer be written? We don't actually want all answers to give a full justification for their theological background. That would just be a waste of time for answers, as every answer would be so long that they might even hit the character limit. Instead, each answer should clearly state which position it represents, possibly giving a brief explanation if it is not a well-known position, and then give a few links for more reading on the position. On this site we show how systematic theology is applied to exegesis, but leave the justifications of systematic theology to the Christianity.SE site (or the Judaism.SE site for Jewish systematic theology).

And then, like with answers that are predominantly exegetical, we want these answers to put forward a strong detailed case for what they're saying. For these theology-based answers, that means we want them to explain why they provide the best explanation of the passage, why they are the most consistent and coherent reading of the passage. And ideally we can now bring in exegetical details. For this Matthew 9:4 example, an answer might point out that "knowing" is active not passive, so "Jesus was told their thoughts by God" is a weaker explanation than Jesus knew their thoughts in his own power.

Good answers are direct and concise: put the theology upfront, don't pretend like we're not reading these passages already strongly persuaded of our Christology, and then show how our Christology helps us read the passage and how it aligns with the details of the text.

In addition, for contradiction questions, there are only really three ways to resolve apparent contradictions: posit a scribal error, better exegesis, or theological synthesis. See my answer to this Meta question on contradiction questions.

Proof texting means ignoring context, which is bad hermeneutics. Downvote such answers. But, don't mistake only quoting one verse for proof texting. Quoting the most relevant verse of a longer passage does not mean we're necessarily taking that verse out of context. To claim an answer is proof texting you need to be sure that it's reading that verse in a way which is against the broader context it's found in.

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    "We don't come to the text without some preconceptions" The goal is to examine such preconceptions and when compared to the text, we either discard them or confirm them. Not to impose them onto the text and call it theology. The noted samples are impositions on the text and do not deserve to be an accepted foundation for an answer on BH. Simply being accepted views does not give them any credibility - according to the Bible.
    – Steve
    Sep 28, 2023 at 1:30
  • "The goal is to examine such preconceptions and when compared to the text, we either discard them or confirm them." Not in every question we can't, or else we could never land on any answer. If you want to delve into the justifications of a theological position, do that on Christianity or Mi Yodeya.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 28, 2023 at 1:32
  • “a valid exegetical way of reading such a passage” must not be done in isolation as you have expressed via Matt 9:4. That is a fool’s paradise where one can make the Bible say whatever we want. Broad context eliminates setting in concrete the initial assumption on which may be built an entirely incorrect construct. "Not in every question we can't" - about Jesus we can, unless we really don't want to.
    – Steve
    Sep 28, 2023 at 1:53
  • @Steve Indeed, helpful answers would point out Matt 12:25 and the parallels in Luke. That Jesus knows more than a normal human knows is throughout the gospels.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 28, 2023 at 1:55
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    +1, albeit I take issue that a biblical contradiction has to be resolved (I would contend there is a fourth option: It actually is a contradiction). A valid answer could also argue that the two passages cannot be reconciled (nor should be), as the assumption that they should be reconcilable is a theological premise that means the question may be a better fit for Christianity.SE. But overall, good stuff and +1
    – Dan
    Sep 28, 2023 at 3:01
  • @Dan I think we've probably had that discussion before, though I can't remember the exact post. While site members don't have to believe all alleged contradictions can be resolved, I don't think "it can't be" would count as a valid answer. It would also be much hard to justify a contradiction can't be resolved than almost all the solutions people come up with to justify them. The closest I come to saying they can't be resolved is when Matthew has 2 and the other gospels have 1. I don't like the answers that there really were 2 lepers/etc and the other gospels just didn't care to mention it.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 28, 2023 at 3:07
  • @curiousdannii yeah I'm thinking of more egregious things where you have different authors in different time periods with different authors but someone reads "the Bible" as a unified fundamentalist theological treatise filled with propositional statements that can be isolated from their respective contexts and compared.
    – Dan
    Sep 28, 2023 at 3:48
  • For example: "1 John 4:12 and 1 Timothy 6:16 says that no one has seen God, but in Exodus 33:11, the Bible says that God spoke face to face with Moses. This is a contradiction, amiright?" The issue here is not that it can't be reconciled, but that doing so is theological and better served at Christianity.SE, and these are disparate texts with vastly different assumptions.
    – Dan
    Sep 28, 2023 at 3:48
  • Also, just to be clear, I'm not saying anyone could somehow eliminate theological assumptions in answers. I just think that questions should stick within certain modes of discourse which lend themselves to a broader set of answers and which do not impose theological positions on those answering. Namely, stick to historical, linguistic, and literary modes. Then answers would respond in kind within the respective modes.
    – Dan
    Sep 28, 2023 at 3:55
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    Religious, theological, ethical, etc. are better served on Christianity.SE where someone can simply state the specific theological framework they approach with and run with it to prevent boundless subjectivity as we often see here.
    – Dan
    Sep 28, 2023 at 3:55
  • @Dan I agree that the "no one has seen God" questions are not good here. We really need one canonical question we can close all the rest as duplicates of. In any case, contradiction questions are an edge case on this site, but how to deal with them really needs to be discussed in another Q&A than this one.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 28, 2023 at 3:57
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There are many texts in scripture which express the unity of Deity and there are many texts in scripture which express Deity in terms of Person.

By examining all the evidence, in balance, one may arrive at an understanding of both what Deity is, that is to say the unity of that nature, and who Deity is, that is to say Who is in possession of that nature.

This is the study of a lifetime, I would say, having studied these matters for over fifty years from my teens. It is not arrived at instantly.

Patiently sifting all the relevant information, gradually collating all the evidence, maturely coming to a studied and intelligent conclusion - this is why we are here : this is our existence, given as a gift, that we may learn and understand Who it is that has made us.

Of course there will be disagreement. The scripture makes it clear that there will be and the scripture makes it clear why it will be so.

Personally, I do not see that there is any difficulty or imbalance or impropriety about what is done on SE-BH.

All are welcome to join in the hermeneutic analysis of the text of holy writ.

None are being excluded.

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  • 2
    I agree that these studies take a lifetime. That does not justify cramming catechism, some of which takes bits and pieces from the Bible to give the appearance of authoritativeness, in a platform about Biblical Hermeneutics. Sep 27, 2023 at 14:48
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    @IñakiViggers In my five years visiting this site I must confess I have not observed any 'catechism cramming' being attempted.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 27, 2023 at 15:28
  • Yesterday I replied providing three instances of catechism, one being an answer you authored, but mods strangely enough removed my comment. Sep 28, 2023 at 19:49
  • @IñakiViggers Well, they are Moderators and the Community has elected them to oversee the site. I assume the decision to delete was for good reason.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 28, 2023 at 21:11
  • I'm not so much criticizing that censorship, just letting you know somehow that there are verifiable instances of catechism (and preaching) on BH even if you don't perceive them. Sep 28, 2023 at 21:20
  • "All are welcome" indeed, it really feels that way when someone dares question the official dogma and its flimsy reliance on proof-texting done in isolation and the complete disregard for context - local or remote -and the question is rewarded with close votes and silent DV from those wanting to exclude such investigation of what the Bible actually says. Valid exegesis does not begin with a theological premise.
    – Steve
    Oct 7, 2023 at 9:15
  • @Steve Valid interest in the biblical text begins with a broken heart, with a contrite spirit and with a trembling as one approaches the word of God. Isaiah 57:15.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 24, 2023 at 9:15
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Reason Vs Dogma

This is absolutely true, and the existence of constant questions like this by experts prove this. This site has long been turned into Theological Exegesis, and the proper topics on Hermeneutics have been getting quickly banned. Users subconsciously develop the habit of closing questions as off-topic, because we have experienced that practice for long.

70% are indeed theological, debating on trinity, Jesus deity etc, and the rest 30% garbage contradiction topics stemming from lack of education on biblical criticism.

Curiousdanni writes,

The topic of this site is the core task of exegesis,..... Most answers on this site should be predominantly exegetical. But there are times when a helpful answer will be mostly theological.

Although it is true that common questions would be on exegesis, dealing directly with the immediate text and translation here. However, dogmatic exegesis along with direct-theological implication topics should be banned outright. Hermeneutics questions need to be allowed and not be closed. - Seeking resources on hermeneutical interpretation of scriptural texts Influenced by Egyptian culture

The position taken in answering the question is based on a belief that the Bible is not the infallible word, and doesn't even have to be self-consistent; its purpose is to present a message, not literal truth.

That is certainly what most people in the world believe, so it's not an unreasonable position.

But is it a reasonable position for this site? Not because there is anything inherently wrong with it, but because the resulting answers will end up being mostly predictable and uninformative. (The answer already has a down-vote.)

The level of culture of suppressing & censoring real hermeneutical posts causes some users to question whether such kind of non-dogmatic posts is even appropriate here? When in reality, it had been decided that the site was secular, focusing on real hermeneutics from Biblical Criticism i.e. scientific objective approach, and that the dogmatic illiterate uneducated church laymen are to be allowed to show them light and education. Now, after few years, the dogmatic people gradually hijacked this site, and the questions are being asked about allowing the secular perspective. To clarify, the ChristianitySE is meant for the dogmatic exegesis and theological debates. It is not a Church-History-SE. Still, all exegesis questions are diverted here, and it is falsely portrayed that this is a Christian-dogma-exegesis site.

When I searched on CSE meta, I was surprised to see that exegesis and hermeneutics are tags in CSE already. They allow exegesis, though very few exegesis topics are posted there. Then why the hell they have invaded this as well with people objecting to real hermeneutics with qualms of blasphemy, as truth is seen blasphemous to them, and anti-KJV (Text Critical) answers seems offensive to them.

Could it be that there has been conflict of interest among some admins who are working on both sides and display a bias towards one? (I can't imagine a Rabbinic Jew from JudaismSE being a moderator here or on CSE). Secular and dogmatic methodologies are fundamentally opposed to each other. The vast majority of dogmatic users should be diverted to CSE by showing constant error popups while they make new topics or answers here.

Either, both the CSE and BHE convey a msg that the Christians of CSE are incapable of hermeneutics; or since the dogmatic mob has long invaded this secular site which was meant to be a university rather than church, then we need a separate Secular Hermeneutics which would be absurd.

Light Vs Darkness

Christians would agree, at least in theory, that there is nothing in common between light and darkness. All three sites CSE, Judaism, BHE (Secular) are enemies of each other. It is high time we should start drawing a line to save this one. Theological and dogmatic anti-reason faith-based irrational and emotion based users and essay writers are better suited on CSE.

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